min read

Truth In Advertising

May 21, 2024
June 12, 2024
Listen on Apple Podcasts

The Guest

Tom Rosholt is a consultant with decades of experience at every level of marketing, providing world-class advice and insights on Ad Claim Substantiation, Analytics, Research, and Training. He’s been a statistics instructor, an analyst, a senior research statistician at SC Johnson, a VP, and he’s here today to talk about truth in advertising.

Truth in advertising and customer understanding

In an industry that is not typically associated with trust, advertisers and marketers have a unique opportunity to eschew perceptions by embracing an accountable, truthful, and transparent approach to their strategies and campaigns. Our interview with Tom began with him explaining why truth in advertising matters.

“It’s a hot button issue,” admits Tom. “Why truth in advertising matters, comes down to four things: 1) people don’t like being lied to, 2) false advertising is a federal civil offense, 3) truth in advertising levels the playing field and supports fair competition, and 4) companies that communicate the truth build more enduring brands.”

Tom goes on to explain the ways brands uncover factful moments to inspire marketing ideas and ad campaigns. Paradoxically Tom, a statistician by training, believes that quality communication, not quantitative calculation, is a solid pathway to finding the treasure chest of truth.

“If you’re staying in front of your computer, instead of in front of customers, you’re going to miss a reliable method for mining what’s true for your product or service,” says Tom. “What concerns me most about advertising is the increasing number of incentives to misbehave. The value of lying is becoming higher than telling the truth, and we need to address this imbalance.” 

When did truth and marketing part ways?

Real marketers know that telling the truth in a compelling way is the best way to authentically connect with audiences, but a fair amount of consumers and practitioners think the opposite, why is that?

“Culturally, societally, we went from the idea of community and cooperation to maximizing ROI and shareholder value at any cost,” explains Tom. “Dehumanizing each other makes it easier to lie and helps explain the concept of ‘drift,’ which is where a great product is released, and slowly the brand takes out the magic and degrades the quality bit by bit, something you can see from consumer goods to social media platforms.”

We then venture into truth at the reporting level for marketers, where the concept of fuzzy interpretations of data, and misuse of statistics and forecasting can ladder up into disastrous strategic decisions.

Is truth in advertising a personal, or structural problem? 

“I think trust in advertising is 100% a personal problem, and something that is best fixed at the individual level,” says Tom. “We justify our individual choices through the lens of the organizations we are employed in. It is one person deciding to lie, or approach the truth loosely, with shareholders that starts the fire. It’s very difficult to change a corporate culture. It’s much easier to change your approach and be honest and truthful at every point in your journey.” 

To find out how Tom works with clients to find juicy truths, why data is the perfect tool for creativity, how truth is a competitive advantage, and if Tom prefers pivot tables of picnic tables, listen to the full show at the links provided on this page.

The Links

Tom on LinkedIn 

National Advertising Division 

FTC page on Truth In Advertising

Truth In Advertising

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LISTEN TO THE FULL SHOW -> Stay tuned, stay curious and subscribe to What Gets Measured on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube or add it as a Favorite on your podcast player of choice.

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